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4 Mpls. Teachers Heading To Somalia To Better Understand Their Students

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In Minneapolis, four teachers are going way beyond what is expected in order to close a cultural gap.

The teachers work at Anne Sullivan Communication Center, an elementary and middle school on East 28th Street in Minneapolis. There, 60 percent of the students are Somali.

James Kindle teaches third, fourth and fifth graders who are learning English. While they share Somali heritage, their backgrounds are diverse.

“Our students from northern Somalia may have a lot of differences from our kids from southern Somalia. Our kids that have gone through refugee camps and schools in refugee camps are very, very different from those who have gone through traditional educational systems prior to coming to the United States,” Kindle said.

Kindergarten teacher Kaitlin Lindsey has conducted many home visits.

“The best thing about home visits is that we get off on the grounds that the entire family is working together with the students, so it’s the relationship that gets built that’s most important,” Lindsey said.

Laura Byard works with middle schoolers. She’s alsopart of the team headed to Somalia and Ethiopia in June, for two weeks.

Along with teaching assistant Ayan Mohamed, Kindle, Lindsey and Byard plan to visit schools, homes and refugee camps. When they return, they plan to share what they learned with other educators.

“We’re going to be building this repository of resources, especially images and videos. And then we will be blogging along the way. We’ve been connecting with people as to where we will put out this blog, so people can see that,” Byard said.

Students at the school are thrilled their teachers are headed to their homeland.

“Being able to say I’ve seen places that they’ve come from, that we have sort of a shared memory of a certain experience, certain place, I think will make a big difference,” Kindle said.

The teachers won a $10,000 grant to pay for the trip, but that only covers airfare for the four. They’re raising money to pay for their transportation once they arrive as well as their meals, and in some cases, security as they travel.

Click here for more information on the fundraiser.

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